Thyroid Condition May Slow Depression Recovery

Autoimmune disorder linked to poor response to treatment

MONDAY, March 15, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- An autoimmune thyroid condition may hinder the recovery of some people with depression, says a Greek study in this week's issue of BMC Psychiatry.

The study also suggests doctors may be able to use indicators of thyroid function to predict how patients will respond to antidepressants.

Researchers studied 30 people with major depression and 60 healthy people. Each person was examined by two psychiatric experts. Thyroid function was tested in all the subjects.

Levels of thyroid function indicators FT3, FT4 and TSH were within normal ranges for all the people in the study. But some of the people with depression appeared to have increased levels of thyroid binding inhibitory immunoglobins in their blood.

High levels of these immunoglobins can inhibit thyroid gland function.

"Although thyroid gland dysfunction is not common in depression, there is evidence suggesting the presence of an underlying autoimmune process affecting the thyroid gland in depressive patients," the study authors write. "The finding that depression often co-exists with autoimmune subclinical thyroiditis suggests that depression may cause alterations in the immune system, or that, in fact, it is an autoimmune disorder itself."

The people in this study were reassessed two years after their initial examination to determine how well they responded to treatment for depression. The study found that their responsiveness to treatment was associated with levels of thyroid hormone and thyroid binding inhibitory immunoglobin in their blood.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about depression.

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, March 14, 2004
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